Monday 24 July 2017

'We're getting out' - Donald Trump says US will withdraw from Paris climate accord

U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to announce his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

President Donald Trump has confirmed he will withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, spurning pleas from US allies and corporate leaders in an action that fulfilled a major campaign pledge.

"We're getting out," Trump said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in which he decried the Paris accord's "draconian" financial and economic burdens.

"In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord," Trump said. But he added that the United States would begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or "a new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers."

With Trump's action, the United States will walk away from nearly every nation in the world on one of the pressing global issues of the 21st century. The pullout will align the United States with Syria and Nicaragua as the world's only non-participants in the accord.

The United States was one of 195 nations that agreed to the accord in Paris in December 2015, a deal that former US President Barack Obama was instrumental in brokering.

Supporters of the accord condemned Trump's move as an abdication of American leadership and an international disgrace.

In a statement former US President Barack Obama said the Trump administration rejects the future in pulling out of the climate agreement.

"Even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I'm confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we've got," he said in a written statement issued as Trump was announcing the withdrawal.

News that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has been met with concern and extreme disappointment by the Irish Government.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten said: "We are all vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and we all have a responsibility to address climate change within our respective capabilities. I am therefore extremely disappointed and concerned that the United States has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement."

Minister Naughten said this is a "major setback for the international community".

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Climate change minister Denis Naughten

Noting the announcement this week by the United Nations Secretary General of his intention to convene a dedicated climate summit in 2019 to review implementation of the Paris Agreement, Minister Naughten added: “Ireland remains committed to continuing to work with its EU partners under the UN Framework to make the Paris Agreement a success and to ensure that all of the EU’s international partners stay committed to the Agreement.”

Minister Naughten concluded: “Upon their withdrawal the US will join Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries outside the Paris Agreement.”

In the US politicians criticised the move. Bernie Sanders said: "At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations."

Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse added: "Ignoring reality and leaving the Paris agreement could go down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation's history, isolating the US further after Trump's shockingly bad European trip."

Meanwhile Prime Minister Theresa May has told US president Donald Trump of her "disappointment" at his decision to pull America out of the Paris Accord on climate change and stressed that Britain remained committed to the agreement, Downing Street said in a statement.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn mocked the famous photos of Mrs May during her January visit to Mr Trump in the White House, as he said: "Pulling out of the Paris climate deal is reckless and regressive. Instead of hand-holding, I'll work for a sustainable future for our planet."

Declaring their "regret" at President Trump's move, French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni said they remained committed to the "irreversible" accord and regarded it as "a cornerstone in the co-operation between our countries, for effectively and timely tackling climate change".

Under the pact, which was years in the making, nations both rich and poor committed to reducing emissions of so-called greenhouse gases generated by burning fossils fuels and blamed by scientists for warming the planet.

The United States had committed to reduce its emissions by 26 percent to 28 pc from 2005 levels by 2025. The United States, exceeded only by China in greenhouse gas emissions, accounts for more than 15 pc of the worldwide total.

Trump, who campaigned for president last year with an "America First" message, promised voters an American withdrawal.

US supporters of the pact said any pullout by Trump would show that the United States can no longer be trusted to follow through on international commitments.

Trump tapped into the "America First" message by saying: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

"We don't want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won't be," Trump added.

International leaders had pressed Trump not to abandon the accord. At their meeting last month, the pope gave Trump a signed copy of his 2015 encyclical letter that called for protecting the environment from the effects of climate change and backed scientific evidence that it is caused by human activity.

Despite pressure from allies in the Group of Seven rich nations at a meeting in Italy last week, Trump had refused to endorse the agreement, rebuffing leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain.

Virtually every nation voluntarily committed to steps aimed at curbing global emissions of "greenhouse" gases such as carbon dioxide generated from burning of fossil fuels.

Leading climate scientists say the emissions trap heat in the atmosphere and have caused a warming planet, sea level rise, droughts and more frequent violent storms.

Last year was the warmest since records began in the 19th century, as global average temperatures continued a rise dating back decades that scientists attribute to greenhouse gases.

They warned that U.S. withdrawal from the deal could speed up the effects of global climate change, worsening heat waves, floods, droughts and storms.

During the campaign, Trump said the accord would cost the US economy trillions of dollars with no tangible benefit. Trump has expressed doubts about climate change, at times calling it a hoax to weaken U.S. industry.

CAMPAIGN PROMISE

The Republican vowed during the campaign to "cancel" the Paris deal within 100 days of becoming president on Jan. 20, part of an effort to bolster U.S. oil and coal industries.

China, which overtook the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007, and the European Union will seek on Friday to buttress the Paris agreement, with Li meeting top EU officials in Brussels.

In a statement backed by all 28 EU states, the EU and China were poised to commit to full implementation of the agreement, officials said.

Trump has already moved to dismantle Obama-era climate change regulations, including the U.S. Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing emissions from main coal-fired power plants.

Some U.S. states, including California, Washington and New York, have vowed to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and continue engaging in the international climate agreement process.

Oil majors Shell and ExxonMobil Corp supported the Paris pact. Several big coal companies, including Cloud Peak Energy, had publicly urged Trump to stay in the deal as a way to help protect the industry's mining interests overseas, though others asked Trump to exit the accord to help ease regulatory pressures on domestic miners.

REACTION IN IRELAND

Environmental groups including the Green Party, Friends of the Earth and Stop Climate Chaos will protest outside the US Embassy tomorrow at 1pm in protest at the decision.

Aid agency Trócaire said the new Taoiseach must quickly commitment to the Paris Agreement, while Christian Aid Ireland said that US withdrawal “does not make America great, it diminishes it in the eyes of the world”.

“America is not immune to climate change,” head of advocacy and policy Sorley McCaughey said. “It is already facing superstorms flooding New York and New Orleans, rising sea levels swamping naval bases, and droughts causing 1930s style crop failures. The consequences of climate change are a real and present danger to America.

“Thankfully this grossly irresponsible act will not stop the worldwide transition to a low-carbon economy. The rest of the world recognise that it’s in their interests to decarbonise their economies and slow the heating of the planet.  They will not let one man destroy our common home.”

The Environmental Pillar, which represents NGOs, said the decision showed a “profound lack of solidarity” with the rest of the world in tackling climate change.

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